WCW Mayhem was the very first WCW game to be released by EA. EA got the rights to make games based on WCW after THQ who previously made WCW games joined up with the WWF. EA were said to be very excited, and no matter what anyone says a ton of effort was put into this game; EA really did go into it with the best of intentions. WCW did a great job of hyping the game up as well, so I think that EA and WCW really thought that this game was going to blow people away.
There was sort of a side sequel in WCW Backstage Assault (we will get to that later) but there was actually a full sequel that was in development for the Playstation 2. Some magazines even showed screen shots of the game, but as the WWF bought out WCW there was no way they could release it.
EA really did go all out in terms of the games presentation. The first thing I want to talk about is the arenas in the game. WCW Mayhem actually featured all of the WCW pay-per-view arenas as well as having their flagship TV shows as well. The fans in attendance also looked slightly better than what other wrestling games had done in the past.
The wrestler character models of which there are a huge number looked incredible at the time. And while now I will admit that they do look very odd back in 1999 I honestly do not remember anyone having anything bad to say about the way the wrestlers looked. It is a shame EA refused to work on the Sega Dreamcast because I would loved to have seen how polished this game would have looked that platform.
The sound is kind of a mixed bag. On one hand you have some the awesome WCW theme songs of the era. Wolf Pac and Buff Bagwell’s are just a couple of my favorites, but some wrestlers instead of having their own entrance themes have a generic song. The commentary on the Playstation is pretty well done, but on the Nintendo 64 it is just really weird. It is like they just picked random lines from the Playstation and stuck them in there.
The core game play of WCW Mayhem is pretty unique I have heard some people say that it is kind of a middle ground between WWF Attitude and WWF Wrestlemania 2000, and I think that is actually a pretty good way to look at it. The game features a pretty simple grapple and striking system that is really easy to get to grips with. But the problem I have is that the wrestlers seem to have very small move sets in the game, and you will find yourself repeating the same moves over and over again.
The game has some very odd collision detection going on as well. Sometimes you can be a little away from your opponent and a hit will register, and other timers you can be standing right next to them and your strikes just go through them. It can get kind of annoying when you’re playing against the AI as the collision detection problems seem to affect you more than the AI.
The game has some really well animated finishing moves, but to execute one you have to be standing up. This may not sound like a big deal, but for some wrestlers like Bret Hart and Chris Jericho who were two of my most used characters. Their real life finishing moves which require the opponent to be on the ground are just regular ground moves in this game and they do not do much damage. I know this sounds like a petty thing to criticize, but it does kind of take you out of the moment.
One thing that this game deserves a ton of credit for is the back stage areas. If you and your opponent head back stage then you can fight in one of a few different backstage areas. This was the very first game to let you go back stage and brawl. It was pretty fun and unique at the time and the back stage areas had a bunch of weapons for you to use.
As far as the game modes go you have three different ones. You have Quest For The Best which is the games main single player campaign. This is pretty simple but fun. You pick your wrestler and then make your way up the WCW rankings with the hope of becoming the next WCW Champion. You also have Main Event mode this is really just exhibition and it lets you pick from a variety of match types.
My favorite mode was the pay-per-view mode this has been in other wrestling games, but WCW Mayhem took a really unique approach to it. If you went to WCW.com and I am talking about the real website not in the game, you would be given a code to unlock a real life WCW pay-per-view where you could then play out all the matches. They actually supported this for a few weeks until the roster got out of date and it was not possible. This was a really cool idea and something that I think would be cool for 2K Games to do with the WWE games.
WCW Mayhem is not a perfect game at all and Father Time sure as hell has not been kind to it, but I did enjoy it back in the day. For die hard WCW fans though it must have been hard going from WCW Revenge to WCW Mayhem all the while the WWF gets the amazing Wrestlemania 2000. Still like I said at the star,t this is one game I really think EA had the best intentions with, and who knows if they had a couple of more months it maybe could have been something very special. Out of the two versions for me the Playstation even with the load times is the way to go.
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